I hope you guys have your seat-belts buckled. Keeping up with the news and translating that into player values and then communicating to you guys is a 24/7 process.
Instead of releasing the four remaining divisions we haven’t touched on separately, here they are all in one column.
On a random side note, my first big money draft is tonight and it’s an auction. I’ll either tweet or write-up the results, depending on whether or not Doc writes up the results of 30-DEEP, which is just winding down. Recently overheard was: “Is Nazr Mohammed taken? Yeah. Dammit.”
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the Bruski 150 you can find it here, and for real-time fantasy information and NBA news you can click here to follow me on Twitter.
You can find our Southeast Division minute projections right here and our Atlantic Division projections right here.
Lastly these projections have been updated as of Thursday night’s news. To see if anything has changed, you can click here to go to our player news page.
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Editor's Note 2: With draft season upon us click here to check out our draft guide, and with the season right around the corner click here to check out our Season Pass premium content.
CENTRAL DIVISION MINUTE PROJECTIONS
* Rosters clipped at times to remove irrelevant players
* A zero denotes a rotation slot not guaranteed
* A split designation means that something big will change the rotation like a player’s return. An mpg range denoted with an ‘E’ means that it’s the player’s early ranks, an ‘L’ means late, and a ‘Y’ means the year-long mpg projection.
*For up-to-date player news and information, click here to go to our player news page.
Derrick Rose (34-38) / Kirk Hinrich (14-18) / Marquis Teague (0, 10-16)
Jimmy Butler (34-38) / Tony Snell (0, 10-20)
Luol Deng (36-39) / Mike Dunleavy (18-24)
Carlos Boozer (28-32) / Taj Gibson (23-27) / Erik Murphy (0, 5-15)
Joakim Noah (30-33) / Nazr Mohammed (9-14)
The Bulls have been an easy team for owners to assess throughout the last few years, and this year is going to be no different. Rose looks as in the midst of a best-case scenario return, save for that minor knee soreness a week ago. Jimmy Butler (knee) doesn’t appear to have any setbacks and he would need to fall on his face to not log the 34-38 minutes you see above. Boozer has looked pretty good recently, but his durability and effectiveness will be fighting decline all year long while Gibson is surging, which is reflected. Noah has been adjusted downward throughout the past few days, with Gibson picking up a few minutes.
Kyrie Irving (36-38) / Jarrett Jack (25-28) / Matthew Dellavedova (0,5-10,*)
Dion Waiters (30-34) / C.J. Miles (0, 8-15) / Carrick Felix (0, 8-16) / Daniel Gibson (0,5-10,*) / Elliot Williams (0, 4-8,*)
Earl Clark (24-28) / Alonzo Gee (23-27) / Sergey Karasev (0, 6-16) / Michael Lee (0,3-6,*)
Anthony Bennett (27-33) / Tristan Thompson (29-34)
Anderson Varejao (32-36) / Andrew Bynum (18-23) / Tyler Zeller (0, 12-18)
The Cavs are clogged up down low, but even that shouldn’t be too big a deal for guys like Bennett and Thompson, who are playing with notorious injury risks in Varejao and Bynum. If Bynum called a press conference to tell everybody he was quitting basketball to run a hair salon it wouldn’t surprise me at this point, and I for one think he should just start smoking cigarettes at his locker in the post-game. In all seriousness, owners should be more concerned about the respective holes in Bennett and Thompson’s fantasy games more than they should be concerned about minutes. As for Varejao, I’m not going to overpay for him but I do hope he falls to me. Most of his injuries have been very fluky and by virtue of that maybe the luck finds him this time around – which would obviously be big for owners.
The fans in Cleveland are in for a solid surprise if they didn’t get to watch Warriors games last year, as Jack is a one man wrecking crew at times and has really thrived in the veteran backup/swing guard role. He’ll also keep the right type of pressure on Waiters, who has had a good offseason according to most reports, but always needs some reining in when defense and shot selection become an issue. Jack is the invisible hand that will encourage Waiters to do that.
Clark is struggling at the small forward position and once Bennett gets his conditioning where he wants it to be, look for him to start dipping into that bucket if Clark and Gee don’t get their acts together, which they probably won’t.
Chauncey Billups (23-29E, 19-24Y, 0) / Will Bynum (19-25E, 16-20Y) / Brandon Jennings (31-35)
Rodney Stuckey (27-32E, 25-29) / Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (18-24Y, 23-29L)
Josh Smith (34-37) / Kyle Singler (17-23) / Luigi Datome (0, 15-21)
Greg Monroe (33-38) / Jonas Jerebko (15-22)
Andre Drummond (31-35) / Josh Harrellson (0, 9-15)
The Pistons’ backcourt is a total mess and the thought of Billups saving up his energy to play in some portion of games sounds like a fantasy nightmare. If the group is playing well, I’d expect Billups to be less of a factor as the team will want to keep him fresh for the long haul, but if things go haywire look for Mo Cheeks to use Billups as a regulator of sorts. I’m staying away from this entire group this season, and as for Jennings the timing couldn’t be worse, as it opens the door for others to set the tone and eat into his minutes.
It’s going to be very interesting to watch this murderer’s row style frontcourt in action, even if they are a tiny bit mismatched at Smith’s small forward position. Drummond has been playing big minutes during the preseason (3-of-5 over 34 mpg), and the only thing can stop him is foul trouble or nagging injuries like the back ailment he had last year.
George Hill (34-37) / C.J. Watson (19-23) / Donald Sloan (0, 5-10) / Ben Hansbrough (0, 5-10*)
Danny Granger (20-24) / Lance Stephenson (31-36)
Paul George (36-40) / Solomon Hill (0, 8-18) / Orlando Johnson (0, 8-15,*)
David West (28-32) / Luis Scola (18-24) / Chris Copeland (12-17)
Roy Hibbert (31-35) / Ian Mahinmi (14-18)
The Pacers added a bunch of depth this offseason, but luckily for owners that hasn’t translated into any major ambiguity on a fantasy level. Hill and George are untouchable in their roles and minutes, which was the case before any recent issues Granger has shown so needless to say now that Granger is falling apart already I haven’t changed things around much.
West will cede some minutes to Scola and Copeland might float around from positions 3-5 just so they can get his offense on the floor, but if he’s not hitting he’ll get yanked real quick. Stephenson is the sleeper of the bunch – though don’t get that confused for my endorsement of him as a fantasy asset. We’ve seen some good stuff lately, but he has too many deficient categories to get truly excited about.
Brandon Knight (30-34) / Luke Ridnour (21-25)
O.J. Mayo (35-38) / Gary Neal (18-22)
Caron Butler (26-30) / Carlos Delfino (foot) (23-26) / Khris Middleton (0, 14-19) / Giannis Antetokounmpo (0, 10-25E, 5-20Y)
Ersan Ilyasova (27-31) / John Henson (25-28) / Ekpe Udoh (knee, 4-6 weeks, 11-16)
Larry Sanders (31-36) / Zaza Pachulia (17-22)
The Bucks are going to have a tough season, fighting to get the funding locally to get an arena that will keep the team in Milwaukee. That fight is a long one and is a ways off, but the middling roster you’re looking at is very likely a direct result of needing to put a passable product on the court rather than tanking like the Sixers.
New arrivals Knight and Butler come with some new fantasy car smell in the sense that they get to shed some of their past encumbrances and start in Milwaukee with relatively clear sailing. Ridnour could theoretically be a thorn in Knight’s side (and he played well the other night showing he still has it), but Knight is the guy the Bucks want to rally around at the point. Knight was showing signs of playing more like a point guard rather than the shooting guard style game he has had to date, at least until a hamstring injury sidelined him the other day. I’m categorizing it as minor until I hear otherwise, though the timing isn’t great as he tries to gel with his new team.
Butler also has a chance to right the decline he saw in Los Angeles, and given the Bucks’ lack of scoring options he has a chance at a solid late round value season. I can’t bring myself to give him any more minutes having not eclipsed 30 minutes since 2009-10. When Delfino returns things will tighten up a little bit, but the injury potential for both he and Butler should keep guys like Neal, Middleton and Antetokounmpo on call. As for Giannis, look for him to be used sparingly until he shows in practice that he’s not making silly mistakes so regularly. He has the stat set to be a fantasy stud, but he needs to first show that he can crack an NBA rotation before we go down that road.
Ilyasova enthusiasts will be disappointed to see his mpg range, but that’s what happens when a guy like Henson is breathing down one’s neck. Ilyasova has always been able to produce with low minutes, and certainly the Bucks could use his offense, but mobility issues have made him a liability at times on the floor whereas Henson is a difference maker on the glass. The ankle injury Ilyasova suffered cracked the door open for Henson to make his case for playing time, and so far it looks like he has a very good chance to steal some MPG.
Sanders’ big issue this year is controlling his foul trouble, which is how he gets all those blocks. Finding the right balance will be a function of experience, and I wish I could say I saw signs of him turning the page in that regard. He has averaged 3.8 fouls in his last five preseason games in just 24.2 minutes, and while that keeps me from getting more aggressive on his minute projection I’m not dropping him down my board for a relatively uninspiring preseason.